Textural path

Exhibit on display in Stanislaw Lem Garden of Experiences, a branch of the Museum of Municipal Engineering in Krakow.

Description written by Adrianna Gajdziszewska

This gently curving, approximately 10 meters-long path is made of several bands of different surfaces. If the weather’s nice, take off your shoes and walk barefoot on the path. Step very carefully. Now you can test yourself if you’re able to correctly name each type of surface. Can you recognise the parts of the path made of sand, wood, dirt, gravel, stones?

Our sense of touch consists of as many as five types of receptors, which vary in shape, surface, reaction time and location in the body. Thanks to two receptors in the outer layer of the skin, we can feel a light touch. Receptors located deeper in the skin allow us to feel pressure and mechanical vibrations. Located in the deepest layers are the receptors responsible for the sensations of heat, cold and pain. When we walk on the textural path, the receptors in our feet register the texture and temperature of different materials and send the relevant information to the brain. The brain analyses and remembers new stimuli, making it possible to recognise surfaces by detecting only texture and temperature. The most sensitive receptors are in the fingertips and lips – in optimal conditions, they can detect surface distortions of just one micrometre (one-thousandth of a millimetre). The least sensitive part of our body is the heel.

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